Amazon Says Prime Day Glitches Not Related To AWS


Widespread glitches that marred the fourth annual Amazon Prime Day shopping event were not related to Amazon Web Services, an AWS spokesperson told CRN Tuesday.

Prime Day, a promotion for premium members that drives more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, got off to a bad start on Monday, with the world's largest e-commerce site—hosted on the world's leading cloud—failing just minutes after the extravaganza began.

Instead of deals, many eager shoppers encountered pictures of dogs accompanied by captions notifying them of the outage.

[Related: The 10 Biggest Cloud Outages Of 2017]

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The e-commerce site has the advantage of being hosted on its own cloud, which expanded the negative public relations blast radius beyond the online shopping service.

But the spokesperson said Amazon's cloud division had nothing to do with the problems shoppers experienced. And no other AWS users had workloads impacted because of related issues.

Problems first arose at 3:04 pm Eastern—just four minutes after Amazon Prime Day officially kicked off on Monday.

Glitches were reported concurrently on the AWS Management Console, as well as with the streaming Prime Video service and connections to the Alexa digital assistant through Amazon Echo home devices. They were not related, however, to the Prime Day failures, Amazon said.

The e-commerce giant hasn't offered any explanation as yet for the technical failure.

While shopper frustrations continued throughout the day, and the outage effectively shaved six hours off the 36-hour event, Prime Day sales still managed to break records.

Amazon hasn't released direct sales figures from this year's Prime Day, but did say sales quickly exceeded those notched last year.

"Since yesterday, small and medium-sized businesses worldwide have exceeded more than $1 billion in sales on Amazon," the company said in a statement.

Last year, the third-annual Prime Day broke records for global orders.

"Running an event that is as large, complex, and mission-critical as Prime Day takes a lot of planning," blogged Jeff Barr, Amazon's chief evangelist, last September.

To prepare, AWS tracks preparations and identifies risks for the unprecedented customer onslaught the e-commerce site will field.

Each AWS team responds to a series of detailed technical and operational questions that are designed to help them determine their readiness, Barr said.

Amazon also conducts what it calls "Game Day" sessions in which failures are simulated to train AWS teams to identify and quickly resolve issues.

The practice session "is intended to validate all of the capacity planning & preparation and to verify that all of the necessary operational practices are in place and work as expected," Barr said.

Kevin Davis, CTO of Relus Cloud, headquartered in Georgia, said the AWS partner doesn't see the Prime Day outages as a negative event.

"Amazon's purpose with Prime Day is to stress test their systems, processes, and people so that they are prepared for the real tent pole events that the retail industry experiences. One could argue that this Prime Day was one of the most successful Prime Days to this point," Davis said.

Millions of orders were placed in the first minutes of Prime Day. Now Amazon's engineering team gets three months to redesign some core systems to queue more and even the load when it initiates all at once.

"Prime Day is also bigger than the IT systems. They are learning about how to respond as an operations group, find flaws in processes, and test their logistics at scale," Davis said.